United States President Barack Obama seems to finally be succeeding in delivering health care to Americans who previously could not afford health insurance coverage, and for that he should be applauded. His presidency has had far from smooth roads to travel, but this landmark legislation could cement his legacy for generations to come.
While many Canadians might be happy to see their southern neighbours better taken care of, however, they might want to consider that this move could very likely take a toll on Canada's already overwhelmed health care system.
Think about it. Obama's reforms are expected to result in health insurance being offered to about 45 million Americans with no previous coverage, and should also benefit millions more who were previously under-insured. These people will now be able to make more visits to primary care specialists like family doctors and pediatricians. There is going to be a much higher demand for these services now, and there is already a shortage of doctors in the United States.
Considering that Canada already has a hard time holding onto its doctors because of higher paydays available for them in the U.S., one could expect this drain to become even more severe as the American health care system ramps up its recruiting efforts.
The only answer is that the Canadian system must become more competitive, and make it more appealing for doctors to stay home. It must also start producing more doctors by encouraging young people to attend medical schools. Education incentives must be provided to those who choose to stay and practice in Canada.
No health system, private or public, can survive without doctors, and we cannot afford to lose any more of ours.